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5 Years in the making: Introducing the Dynamics 365 Contact Center

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In November 2019, Microsoft introduced Omnichannel for Customer Service, providing companies with native channels such as Chat, SMS, and Facebook, as well as agent productivity tools like Agent Scripts and Macros. The intent was to provide companies with an all in one digital contact center solution which provided the tools for standard case management as well as the tools needed to engage with customers interacting with the business.

Two years later, in November 2021, the Voice Channel was introduced. And soon after, in November 2023, Copilot in Service was introduced. Gradually leading us to the Omnichannel for Customer Service solution we see today.

Omnichannel for Customer Service is a modular AI first customer centric all in one digital contact center solution – quite a mouthful. It has all the characteristics and more of a contact center as a service (CCaaS) solution. However, it could not be termed as a CCaaS solution. Why? Omnichannel for Customer Service came with a mandatory CRM solution – Dynamics 365 Customer Service. To be considered a true CCaaS solution – it would be necessary to provide the ability to service customers using native or third-party channels and route to the appropriate agents who could use ANY CRM.

Although there is high interest in Microsoft’s All in One Digital Contact Center, companies who already had a CRM system – such as Salesforce, ServiceNow, ZenDesk, PEGA etc would balk at having to pay licence costs for Dynamics 365 Customer Service for their agents in addition to the existing licence costs of their CRM systems.

Today, Microsoft introduced the Dynamics 365 Contact Center. A further step to help companies modernise their customer service. The Dynamics 365 Contact Center decouples the Omnichannel solution we know and love and allows it to be leveraged with ANY CRM. It has grown to be a true CCaaS solution.

Initially, there will be a native connector for SalesForce with a connector for ServiceNow launching shortly after. With the Contact Center APIs available, it will be possible to build and reuse your own connectors to any other CRM system – including custom built or even case management solutions built with Canvas Apps.

I have had the opportunity to review this new offering for a few months and my initial thoughts are:

  • With the improvements that have been made to the voice performance. Where calls are now being connected within an acceptable range and there is vastly reduced voice sensitivity, this is an opportunity to engage with customers who genuinely would like a CCaaS solution and would have previously discounted a Microsoft solution because of the addition of Dynamics 365 Customer Service.
  • Dataverse is still needed. Automatic Identification of the Customer and information used to populate the Notification template are pulled from Dataverse. Along with the out of the box connectors to Salesforce and ServiceNow, a standard sync is provided which maps to the OOB tables and fields in Salesforce and ServiceNow. Therefore, though the integration required would be minimised, it has not disappeared.
  • The setup required is not complex. Those already familiar with setting up Omnichannel – in particular, routing and channels – will find the experience consistent. My entry into configuring Salesforce to enable my widget was very smooth.
  • The stand-alone experience still requires that the CRM solution be a web based, iFrame compatible application. However, the embedded experience can be used where the CRM is on premise or not compatible with the stand-alone experience.

Overall, I am extremely excited with the direction of Microsoft’s Contact Center strategy. Companies today are still in need of:

  • a solution which provides a consistent agent and customer experience.
  • a solution which allows the agent to focus on the customer and the conversation, instead of multiple tools and screens.
  • a solution that provides a modular approach enabling growth at the company’s pace instead of technology’s.

I’m confident that this is what the new wave of Customer Service provides within Microsoft.

Check it out!

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